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Barony St John

The new Training Room

In 1886 an appeal was made for funds to erect a hall, able to seat around 300 people, on ground adjacent to the Barony St. John’s Church (or as it was known then, New Ardrossan Parish Church). Funding was successful and the hall building was opened in 1887 at a cost, including furnishings, of £1,000 (around £120,000 in today’s money – which is still a bargain).

Now, exactly 130 years later in 2017, we have finally managed to renovate a major part of the hall building into a Training Room for my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety).

The before and after photos below show a dramatic change;

     

Rotten timbers and broken floorboards, crumbling wall and ceiling plaster, water ingress, wet rot, dry rot and decaying, broken windows meant this room was completely unusable.

But now, it looks like this –

     

We have a wonderful new Training / Meeting Room which can seat up to twelve people for the various training courses we provide including Personal Safety in the Workplace, Lone Worker, First Aid at Work, Refresher First Aid, Emergency First Aid, Paediatric First Aid etc. as well as accommodating meetings and social gatherings for both ourselves and other groups within our community.

Dr Danielle Farrel will be offering independent advice for carers and those living with a disability via her social enterprise, Your Options Understood (YOU), which will be operating out of this room from this week onwards and we will be offering free Personal Safety classes for people with low or no vision, every Thursday from 11am until 12.15pm.

All this is thanks to our funders; The Hugh Fraser Foundation, The Clothworkers’ Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation who funded the building works for the room.

hughfraser  clothworkersfoundationlogo       The Trusthouse Charitable Foundation 

And “Thank you” to Howdens Joinery Co. in Ardrossan who kindly donated the kitchen units and worktop for our tea/coffee area.

 

howdens

Without your funding, this room could never have been completed. Thank you one and all.

If anyone is interested in renting this room out, booking one of our courses or simply finding out more about volunteering or fundraising for our charity, please contact us via our website http://www.ScotCPS.org.uk or look us up (ScotCPS) on Facebook or Twitter.

Goodbye for now.

Many, many, many thanks 😀

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Mutter window update

In a previous post (James Mutter’s windows) I told you all about the history behind two of the stained glass windows in the Barony St. John church building and how they were commissioned by James Mutter to remember his father, William Mutter and mother Jane Rankine upon their deaths in 1885 and 1884 respectively.
  
I have now received an email from a Sheena Harling (nee Parker) from the Midlands who said;
“A friend in Stevenston sent me your recent article on the Mutters. I was interested as my father was born at Meikle Laught  in 1913 and the farm had been rented from the Mutters from 1908 by my grandfather, William Parker.
My cousin of the same name sold it in 2006. His father, another William Parker, had bought it, I think from Mutter descendants or Trustees about 1948. The farm was unusual in that it did not belong to the Earl of Eglinton like so many other farms in Ardrossan Parish.  I have also researched the history of the farm.  I grew up near Dalry  but now live in the Midlands not far from Lincoln.
William Mutter senior came from Dalkeith and was born there in 1805. You maybe knew this. His wife, Jane Rankin, came from Maybole. They married in 1837. His parents were James Mutter and Ann Mitchell.
He died in 1886 at his house in Crescent Park, Ardrossan which he named Meikle Laught.
According to the 1881 Census, James, the son, was Portuguese and Ottoman Consul. It seems a large area to cover but I have not seen the original Census entry – only a transcript, so that may not be quite accurate.
I have researched the Parker family extensively over the last 20 years as family history research is my hobby.  My Granny Parker’s maiden name was Robertson and her father was the original John Robertson who set up the ham-curing business which is just round the corner from the Church. Our “family” Church was St Cuthbert’s in Saltcoats.
I also have a connection to the Barony Church as my aunt (my mother’s sister) and family lived for about 50 years at 4 Arran Place and my cousin sang in the Church choir in the 1950s. I did not know the Church had closed but I am pleased that you have found a good use for it. Your charity sounds very worthwhile. I wish you well with it and your renovations.”
What a lovely email!
But then I got another email from Sheena;
“I have done a bit more digging on James Mutter, b 1841. He was baptised on 15 June, in Gorbals, Lanarkshire. (From Scottish Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950). I have not found his exact birth date. The address in the 1841 Census was Abbotsford Place.
By 1851 the family have moved to  Grove Park, Maryhill, Glasgow, and father, William, is a distiller. His brother, William was born in 1851 and James is a scholar aged 10.
In 1861 James is a Commercial Clerk (Calico Printer) – his employer? and lodging with a family in St George’s Road, Glasgow.
By 1871 he has become Ottoman Consul and is living with parents in Crescent Park, Ardrossan. How he got from being a clerk to a Consul, I cannot imagine.
(Ardross-man: I was intrigued by this and found out that the Ottoman Empire in 1871 was a huge area as you can see by the map below. It covers Bosnia  and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Turkey and parts of Greece. It was sometimes known as Turkish Ottoman as its capital was Constantinople (Istanbul). Turkey itself did not become an independent country until 1923.)

In 1881 he was Ottoman and Portuguese Consul and living in Ardrossan.
I looked in the “London Gazette” where such appointments are made but the only announcements I could find were in 1893 and 1894 when, on the orders of the Queen (Victoria), he was made Turkish Consul at Glasgow on February 24 1893, reported in the London Gazette.
(Ardrossman: Again, I’m a bit confused here as he was already the Ottoman Consul in 1881 and this includes Turkey so why would he then be made Consul of Turkey in 1893??)
And in the “Edinburgh Gazette” in 1894 he had been made Portuguese Consul at Glasgow.
In the 1891 Census he seemed to combine the job of Consul for Ottoman (Turkey), Portugal and Brazil. He was aged 50 and unmarried but had his own home in North Crescent, Ardrossan, with a cook and housemaid.
In June 1895 he married Alice Mary Graham of Lambhill, Glasgow and they had a son, William Graham, in September 1896. His wife died the same month aged 35, presumably in childbirth or soon after. As James died in 1911 in Glasgow, I wonder who looked after Graham, the son?
I decided to see what happened to his brother, William Arthur, b.1850 in Maryhill, Glasgow. By 1881 he is a Wine Broker. Then he appears to have emigrated to Australia where he married Frances Annie Shiel in 1886 in Victoria. Nine years later he died in Coburg, a suburb of Melbourne, on 6th Dec,1895. I found his Obituary, attached, in a local newspaper. So he had a son also. In Memorium notices appeared in the next couple of years.  
From the Obituary he seems to have been a respected man. His death was also announced in the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald in January 1896.
This is probably more than you want or need to know but feel free to use the information. I enjoy the research.”
I hope you agree, this is extremely interesting research. Many thanks Sheena. It beggars belief that any one person would be Consul to the Ottoman Empire, Portugal and Brazil at the same time, never mind that he came from Ardrossan. 😮
But just as I began to write this update, I got another email – this time from Sheena’s cousin, William Parker who commented;
“I always enjoy reading your column in the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald and found this week’s information of particular interest. Meikle Laught, which is referred to in this week’s column, is the name of a farm on the road between Dalry and Saltcoats. My grandfather, William Parker, became a tenant of Meikle Laught Farm in November 1905.
On his death in 1944, my father, also William Parker, took on the tenancy.
In 1948, my parents purchased the farm and the family continued the business there until I, William Parker No 3 and my wife sold the farm in 2006 after 101 years with the family farming there.
In documents that I hold it appears that William Mutter took ownership of the farm in 1853. I recall my parents referring to William Graham Mutter (his grandson) – as being their laird prior to them purchasing the farm. It would appear that ownership of the farm was passed down the generations to the grandson perhaps through inheritance. Whether or not any of them actually did any farming of the lands I don’t know but there was a tenant whose name was Speirs prior to my grandfather.
My documents refer to William Mutter as a merchant and ship owner so it may be that he purchased the farm in 1853 as an investment, rented the farm and named his house in Crescent Park, Ardrossan – Meikle Laught. My information suggests that James Mutter (his son) was living in Crescent Park in 1904-05.I have a photograph (shown) signed W Graham Mutter and dated 4/9/1916. He is in a service uniform and would be about 20. By 1930 he has ownership of the farm and is living in Glasgow. By 1942 he had moved to Brockenhurst in Hampshire.
In Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald’s database of intimations a death is recorded of Ronald Graham Mutter (19) in Germany in May 1945 son of Graham and Enid Mutter.
I thought you might be interested in a little more information about the family who gifted the windows.”

Many thanks to both William and Sheena for this wonderful update on my Mutter’s window post.

Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

As mentioned in a previous post, I found a wonderful pamphlet titled “Life & Work” with the sub-heading “Ardrossan New Parish Church” which had been hidden beneath the floorboards of the Barony St. John Church since 1893. ( The church was known as Ardrossan New Parish Church until 1929 when it became Barony Church then when the local St. John’s Church got demolished, it took their parishioners and in 1987 changed its name again to Barony St.John.)

This advertisement taken from the pamphlet is so good (in a weird and wonderful kinda way) that it deserved its own post; Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

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It was advertising an electro-therapeutic medical medallion, based on the 1880 patented design of Edward P. Caldwell.

It came in two designs, a heart shaped centre and a cross shaped centre, and was sold by A.M. Richardson & Co. through local agents in 1883. According to the advertising leaflet, which was published in 1893, they had sold over 3 million battery medallions over the previous 10 years. 

The blurb claims that the battery was “scientifically tested and guaranteed genuine” and gave “renewed life and energy” by “purifying the blood and improving the circulation striking at once at weak and nervous debility”.

The centre pages of the advert has the headline “The blood is the life, but electricity is the life of the blood” and it appears the amount of medical conditions it cured were almost endless;

Brings happiness and freedom after nauseas medicines fail. Relieves Neuralgia, Rheumatism, Pain in the Back, Nervousness, Chest Colds, Indigestion. Gives strength and vitality to the Nerve forces, uniform and healthy circulation to the blood.

“.…develop agreeable, curative currents throughout the body, the intensity of the currents being demonstrable by galvanometer. The Batteries are excited through mere contact with the body by the moisture of the skin, aided by the natural body heat.

DSC01721 DSC01722Richardson's_Magneto-Galvanic_Battery

Immediate relief is afforded in all cases of impaired or impeded Nerve action, as in Bronchitis, Rheumatism and Neuralgia, and in all cases of sluggish and dormant Organic action, as in general Debility, Biliousness and Constipation.

It also had many testimonials claiming that it also helped Loss of Appetite, Kidney Complaints, Liver Complaints, Lumbago, A Weak Chest, Quinsy and Dizziness, Depression and Nervousness”.

Basically, this magneto-galvanic battery pendant claimed to cure almost everything.

I’ve searched the internet and cannot find any information as to when these products went out of production or if any cases of false claims made against Dr. Richardson or his company. If any readers know anything more, please let me know.

Watch out for more eccentric items advertised for sale in the Victorian era including Y&N corsets, knock-about frocks and a post about Pears Soap that you’ll be shocked to read.

Bye for now.

What to do??

Okay, here’s the thing; when I bought the Barony St. John church and hall in December 2014, I thought the hall would be ideal for my charity as it had a massive training hall and a possible classroom off-shoot.

The church building on the other hand was a bit of a question mark. Should I / we keep it or sell it?

If it was sold, a property developer may buy it up and make it into flats but it’s a listed building so they’d be limited as far windows are concerned. And, having asked around, I found out that it would cost about £1million to convert the church into 12 luxury flats…..with no view except the side streets. 😦

Flats with views around the Ardrossan marina were selling for £75,000 and even if the developer got £80,000 per flat, he just wouldn’t make any money from this venture.

So maybe a big brewery like Witherspoons would take it over and it would become a pub / restaurant similar to a church development they have done in nearby Ayr. But would I really be happy with a pub on my doorstep? No, I don’t think so.

So, what if we kept it?,What could we do with it?

Obviously, if you took all the pews out, you’d be left with a massive big room which, in my eyes,   would be ideal for an Events Centre.

Initially, I thought of making the upstairs gallery into accommodation so we could advertise residential courses – but I was soon convinced that the hall building should cater for our charity and the church building should be completely separate.

Maybe we could floor the hall building and put bunk-style residential accommodation up there? Well, it’s worth looking into.

 

Maybe the two buildings could be connected via the courtyard and we could have cafe facilities and extra toilet facilities for the Events Centre built in?

Now here’s another problem; if I get the funding to complete this vision and save this iconic building, it’s still going to be an empty building – albeit ready to open as a cafe / Events Centre. I would still need to get the cafe kitted out (crockery, cutlery, cooking equipment, food, etc.), the Events Centre kitted out (banquet tables, chairs, bar stock, glasses, decor, etc.), hire staff, promote the place, etc. etc. ….. and all of this will take cash – a lot of cash.

Where will this come from? Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Answers on a postcard.

 

“Thank You” to Howdens Ardrossan

howdens

A huge “Thank You” to Howdens’ Ardrossan store for donating the solid wood worktop, state of the art drawer units and storage cupboard for our new Training Room.

We are extremely grateful.

  

As you can see, the finished look is fantastic!

Temperance Tennyson

Hidden behind an old cupboard in the Barony St. John was a pile of papers which dated back to the early 1900’s (some 1906, 1907, 1909, 1916, 1924, etc.)

In amongst this paperwork was a small card about 3″ x 2″.

It is cream in colour and on one side shows an invitation to a “Special Meeting for Women” and admits the bearer and a friend to a meeting in nearby Saltcoats on Monday January 31st.

I’ve had a look at the calendar and 31st January fell on a Monday  in 1898, 1910, 1916 and 1921 so I’m thinking it’s either 1910 or 1916 as the majority of papers were from between those dates.

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The reverse (or front) of the card advertised a series of “thrilling lectures” from Tennyson Smith  at Saltcoats Town Hall and so I set about finding out more about this gentleman.

Mr. Tennyson Smith was an Englishman and a noted temperance and Prohibition orator who traveled around the world delivering “a series of thrilling lectures on the drink question” according to an article I found in the Granby Leader (Colorado, USA) from 1916.

img_2378And according to the South Wales Daily News of October 12th 1895, Mr. Tennyson Smith was “obliged in 1890 to leave England on account of his wife’s health, he went to Australia; and first in Adelaide, subsequently throughout the whole of the South Colony, he continued temperance work achieving marked success. His services being sought by the other colonies, , he made an extended tour of Queensland; and afterwards went to New Zealand…..Since his return to England, he has been warmly welcomed in different parts of the country, his meetings being crowded to excess.”

I found another article in the New South Wales (Australia) Riverine Herald from 1894 which read as follows:

Mr Tennyson Smith’s Crusade

“Last evening the congregation at the Tjeiri Perimee Hall on the occasion of the Presbyterian Church service, gave an indication of what was to follow, and, as soon as the service was concluded, numbers who had been waiting outside, poured in to hear Mr Tennyson Smith deliver Dr Talmage’s famous sermon.

There was scarcely standing room, and, though Mr Tennyson Smith had already introduced himself to the Echuca public at the children’s service in the afternoon, there was apparent that expectation which is always observable when something unusually good is expected.

A few introductory remarks by the Rev. R. Brown, chairman, some singing by a combined choir and the congregation, and Mr Tennyson Smith indulged in some pertinent and straight-out hitting, as a preface to the piece de resistance. He was very forcible in his denunciation of those who were in the habit of sitting in the church pews and “singing themselves to bliss.

He wanted people to show their Christian spirit by helping their follow creatures and personally exerting themselves to aid in the cause of temperance: Mr Tennyson Smith’s style of delivery bespeaks an elocutionist of ability and, though his voice is not over strong, his re petition, from memory, of Dr Talmage’s discourage was wonderfully good. The sermon, in itself, is very powerful and very striking, and it contains one of the clearest arguments against the liquor trail that could be given effect to on a public platform. The congregation listened with the greatest interest, and the three-quarters-of-an-hour of time occupied seemed to pass but too quickly.

What a thriving town Echuca must be,” he sarcastically observed, when making a passionate exhortation to those present to come forward and take the pledge;

You have 48 houses of accommodation for travellers — that must surely be a good sign.

Mr Tennyson Smith is full of energy and lore, and his appeal, “Who will be the first to come forward ?” being answered by a young man from the back, amidst great applause.

A large number signed, the ordeal being freed from monotony by the singing of well-known hymns, interspersed with stirring remarks by the lecturer.

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Another article in the same newspaper reads;

“For the sake of others” is the title of Gough’s most famous oration to be delivered by Mr E. Tennyson Smith, the popular Temperance orator, in the Temperance Hall this evening, and in view of the splendid reception accorded the lecturer and the favourable impression created on the crowded audience last evening there is no doubt another full house will greet Mr Smith on his re-appearance.  This particular oration has a peculiar charm in as much as it was this very lecture delivered by the great master himself which won Mr Tennyson Smith over to the ranks of total abstainers and started him on his life’s work which has proved so successful as to earn for him the title of “The Second Gough.”

The oration includes some of those wonderfully thrilling passages such as the description of a ship on fire, the coach driver’s terrible drive down hill in California and his appalling cry “I can’t find the brake” and the wreck of the lifeboat.

These illustrations are given with all the dramatic fire and realism for which the lecturer is noted, while the oration sparkles with those inimitable humorous stories for which Gough was renowned and which must be heard to be appreciated. In this respect the lecture will form a striking contrast to the more sombre and stately style of Dr Talmage’s discourse given last night. The mission will continue each evening till Thursday, when Mr Tennyson Smith will give his popular dramatic representation, “The trial of a notorious criminal,” undoubtedly the most interactive and entertaining evening of the series. Full particulars of the various meetings will be found in another column.

AN UNEXPECTED RESULT. A most interesting incident occurred during Mr Tennyson Smith’s mission to Shepparton one which promises to be of considerable importance. On the night of the “Trial of Alcohol,” in which Mr Tennyson Smith appears as “Council for the Prosecution,” the question was asked as usual, “Is anyone prepared to say anything in defence of the prisoner, alcohol ?” In response Mr Carpenter (a moderate drinker) held that the crimes committed by alcohol were largely the fault of the Temperance party. He said that; they did not provide places which would prove a counter-attraction to the hotel and asked, where are the young men of Shepparton to go to discuss football, etc., and urged that the prisoner, alcohol, might be acquitted, as the blame lay rather with the Temperance party. Although the argument for the acquittal of the prisoner was rather weak, it was received with much applause by the moderate drinking section of the audience, and it was evidently considered that a considerable blow had been struck at the lecturer. A great surprise was, however, in store for them, and a considerable disappointment for the supporters of the Liquor sale, when Mr Tennyson Smith used his opponents argument as a weapon to strike a blow at the trade. The lecturer on rising to reply said that with sadness he pleaded guilty on behalf of the Temperance party, to the charge made by Mr Carpenter, he confessed that it was a difficulty here, as in other places, as to where young men could congregate for social intercourse, but he said why should we not solve the problem so far as Shepparton is concerned. Why not start a Temperance Club, he then gave a few particulars of the first Temperance Club started in New Zealand, which was largely due to his efforts, and as the outcome of a mission and which, he said, was today a financial success. Said the lecturer – “Now, I will give a guinea to start a subscription list for such a club in Shepparton, who will give another?

I will,” “I will“, “and I will,” were the exclamations in several parts of the hall, followed by rounds of applause. Tho following day Mr Tennyson Smith conferred with Mr Carpenter, as representing the moderate drinkers, and Mr .J. H. Smith (chemist), and other temperance friends as representing the temperance party and suggested a “social” should be arranged (as was done in New Zealand) on the following Wednesday, and that he would return to Shepparton to be present, when the matter could be discussed and a committee formed to carry out the project. This was decided upon. Meanwhile information was collected as to ways and means, and a preliminary meeting held at the house of Mr J. H. Smith (chemist), when resolutions were formulated. The “social” took place on Wednesday, July 25th, and was a great success, the special feature being that fully as many moderate drinkers as teetotalers were present.

Mr Gregson (banker), was voted to the chair. Resolutions were passed that a club should be formed, two separate committees of ladies and gentlemen being elected to carry out the project. Another was made by the committee of the Mechanics’ Institute to hand over the building, etc., to the committee on the most advantageous terms, and it appeared advisable to the club to he connected with it. Over £12 has already been subscribed and about, fifty persons gave in their names to join. The subscription being fixed at 2 shillings per quarter. We shall watch with considerable interest the development of this scheme and trust our Shepparton friends will know it a great success, be that other towns may be induced to follow suit in this”forward” movement.”

What a wonderful insight into a time gone-by.

Converted churches

There is something really wonderful about a church building in floodlight – maybe even magical.

Take a look at Fenstanton St. Peter & St. Paul parish church bathed in colour and you’ll get what I mean –

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Or maybe Fenton St. Mary’s church in the more traditional white spotlight-

I just think that a church lit up at night, whether in colour or in white light, is something a bit special, don’t you agree?

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I wonder what the Barony St. John church building would look like all lit up?

Spectacular, I think.

Inside, the Barony St. John is the wonderfully grand church organ –

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Now here is the organ in St. Luke’s in Glasgow, the former church which has now been converted into an Events Centre –

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You must admit, there are similarities – but here is St. Luke’s organ backlit with lights and hosting a music event –

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Looks pretty cool doesn’t it?

And here is our floor area –

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And here is St. Luke’s with the pews taken out and set up for a wedding –

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St. Luke’s also have a bar which can be lit in colours to match bridesmaids’ dresses or any colour scheme and matches the lights at the organ –

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Now how cool is that?

Wouldn’t the Barony St. John look superb if it had this makeover?

Well, it may well do – and it’s could be up to you. We are asking for your opinion in a Survey Monkey to determine what the Barony St. John buildings could be transformed into. So for your say on what we should do with them, simply log into https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BaronyStJohn and give us your opinion.

Many thanks 😀

Crystal clear

After what seems like an eternity, the windows in the Training Room have been completed – and they look fab!

Here is what they looked like before –

The wood was rotten (in fact one of the arched windows fell out when we removed the plaster work around it) and every pane was a different type of glass – frosted, clear, opaque, patterned with dimples, patterned with ridges, tinted, mottled – you name it, it was here.

    

The wooden windows are exact copies of what was there before even down to the small square opening segment in the middle of the square windows.

  

With a new coat of paint, the new windows look absolutely fabulous compared to the old, rotten ones.

  

Now we need to focus on the metal protective covering which is on the outside wall of each window.

  

These are badly rusted and damaged causing rust to flow down the external stonework so they need removed, de-rusted, repaired and re-painted – if that’s possible. If not, they’ll need replaced.

Onwards and upwards. 😀

Easter Egg Hunt 2017

Well, it’s hard to believe that it was a year ago that I did our first Easter Egg hunt with my kids in the derelict Barony St. John building.

This year, I tried something a little different – coins and a large egg. You hunt for the coins, which were hidden all over the pews. And then you get a clue to the whereabouts of the large egg.

 

Daniel’s clue was “Arial, Lucinda, Comic Sans, Times New Roman…”

Yes, you’ve guessed it, they’re all types of Fonts…………so his egg was in the church font. 🙂

Gemma’s clue was “Heart, Kidneys, Liver, Lungs…”

They are all types of internal organs……..so her egg was in the church organ. 😀

Two happy kids. 😉

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